A Metcalfe County, Ky. family whose well-water recently tested positive for E. coli, is urging others in the area to have their water tested.
Wilma Gilbert was surprised to find a group of dead chickens across the road from her house that were decaying, as well as a dead rabbit and bird near her home. Gilbert said the dead animals led her and her husband to initially be concerned about their well-water.
"We just got afraid of our water so we decided we should get it tested,” Gilbert said.
The thought of infected water was a nightmare for the Gilberts, who use their well-water for everything.
"My flowers, our garden, bathing, drinking, cooking. Anything you use water for,” Gilbert said.
Unfortunately, the Gilberts nightmare came true when their water tested positive for fecal coliform and specifically for E. coli.
"I cried. I cried all evening. We wouldn't have taken anything for that well. It's one of the reasons why we settled down on this farm ... was this well,” Gilbert said.
Fecal coliform is rare in ground water but it can happen if there is a direct connection to the surface such as through caves or other cracks in the ground. E. coli is a type of fecal coliform that is usually found in the intestines of humans and animals.
There is no way to pinpoint how the well-water became contaminated with E. coli and fecal coliform, but according to the officials with the Barren River Health Department it isn't uncommon for wells to become contaminated.
"Typically we encourage anyone with a well to make sure their well is functioning properly every year and just check it out to make sure everything is fine," said Chip Kraus, the Barren River Health Department's Public Health Services Coordinator.
"If you notice there is a cloudy water coming out of it you might want to do more testing to make sure.”
"Our water supply was excellent and always has been. That's another scary thing. We don't know how long this has been going on. We don't know how long we've been using the water like this,” Gilbert said.
The Gilbert's say some of their neighbors also use their well-water, so not having a working well will also affect them.
The Barren River Health Department has provided the Gilbert's with tips on how to purify their well-water. While waiting until their well is purified the Gilberts are currently buying bottled water.
For more information on how to maintain your water well and disinfect it, click here.